The Magic Quill #160: Furrier Destructions

by Robbie Fischer

Contest winner: Sir Read-a-Lot
Runner-up: greyniffler

Sadie charged into Endora’s laboratory, shouting strings of consonants that sounded indecent without vowels to clothe them. A crystal finger stuck out of her right ear. She didn’t seem able to hear or understand the protests of the receptionist, the watchman, and the laboratory assistant who ran in after her.

Endora looked up from the mortar and pestle, with which she was crunching numbers. “What’s all this?” she asked, in a tone of voice that Sadie understood to mean, “Calm down!” even before she unplugged her right ear.

“Have you resleeved any massages by Floo?” Sadie demanded, her words still a bit jumbled but at least recognizable.

“Yes, we all have,” said Sadie. She gestured toward a sealed roll of parchment on the edge of her workbench. “Been rather busy, though,” she added. “Someone spiked a shipment of Chanel No 5 with a magical algorithm that makes it shift through a succession of surreal numbers. There’s no telling what effect the scent might have on the general public…”

“Then you haven’t bean enclaved to that gist with the ring?” Sadie grinned with relief. “Whatever you dough, doughnut read it. Have everybody bun — brown — bird — ballots! Tell your lost to incinerate their coupés immoderately.”

“You heard her,” Endora said, nodding toward her three co-workers as she tossed the roll of parchment onto a gas ring and ignited it. “Spread the word.”

The guard, secretary, and lab assistant reluctantly left the room. “Now what is this about?” Endora asked, as Sadie threw herself on a stool and slumped across a paper-strewn stretch of bench.

Sadie’s reply was muffled by the sleeves of her robes. “Are you sugar you aren’t in leek with this Lee Shorts villain?”

“Sure as my nose is two and three-quarters inches long.”

Sadie raised her head and squinted appraisingly at Endora’s nose. Then she buried her face again. “They’ve ghost Joe and Ilex, pretty muck everyone in Hawksmeade. The whole whirl will go necks. We’ve ghost to dough something.”

Endora took a moment to translate all this, then nodded and said: “What can I do?”

“Fist, you’ve goat to blink-fold your-shelf,” said Sadie, her grasp of language struggling more and more as she grew more excited. “That wax, Lee Spore can’t beguilt you with the rotten word.”

Endora nodded dubiously, but kept smiling.

“Thin,” Sadie went on, “we nix a couple of booms, and your note — your snow — your gnus” — she gave a little scream of frustration — “your olfactory ogre will lead us to wherever Lex Horse is hiving, and we’ll tack him down toboggan. I mean, together.”

Endora kept nodding while she processed this. Then she shook her head. “How am I supposed to track this bloke? I’ve never seen him. More to the point, I’ve never sniffed him…”

“Sniffle this,” Sadie said, whipping a thick wad of parchment, tied in red tape, out of her robes. “I necked this from the Mastery. It’s a repot on some fainter who supposedly brick the Statue of Secrecy. Vee Sore chased me thorough it. That’s wen he punched the rung off me…”

Sadie stopped talking. Endora had snatched the report from her. Tearing the ribbon off, she spread it out across her workbench and began sniffing it, from side to side, from top to bottom. She occasionally muttered a few words, which sounded to Sadie like: “Mustard, sausage drippings… tobacco, Ficus Brothers… felt, sweat, fermented Brylcream; somebody needs to have his hat blocked… Oi! I know this nutter, obliviator obviously, complete putz, couldn’t charm his way out of a twist of newspaper… Hmm. Bit of oil-based paint, dab of scented lotion, ladies’ brand and not very old ladies’ either; our Lysippus has been a naughty boy… dust, mildew… Aha! No, wait, that’s just you… There it is — no — yes…”

Endora looked up, her eyes fixed and shining, her nostrils flaring. For a moment her expression frightened Sadie. Then she grinned, looked Sadie’s veil in the eye, and said: “Now I believe I can find him blindfolded.”

“Is he fair away?”

“Oh, yes,” said Endora, pulling a sleep mask out of her hat (where she kept it, seemingly, to be prepared for an all-nighter in the laboratory). “Why don’t you go and nick those brooms for us, eh? I’ll close up here, circulate the word about not opening any mail, and…”

Sadie was already gone. Twelve minutes later she appeared again with a broom over each shoulder. “You’ll never belie where I founded this Cleanswipe 6,” she chirped. “Some burger was swapping the stairs with it!”

“Language,” Endora said absently as she pinned a hat with a motor-veil into her hair. With her the veil was not so much for disguise, as to protect her valuable scent organ. “I’m ready to go. In fact, while you were out, I had time to dig something useful out of my research on this algorithm problem.”

“Wait’s that?” Sadie asked as Endora led her upstairs toward the roof.

“Just an idea Ernest the Inscrutable left in his notes.”

“Eh?” Sadie shook her head. “Wasn’t he that gizzard who went gogo over the member 42?”

“Oh, no. He proved that 42 has magical properties. Only, he never found out what they were.”

“And wasp,” Sadie asked as they emerged onto the roof, “are you going to dupe with a broody number?”

“I’m going to use it to tie up Mr. Shore in red tape,” said Endora, brandishing the Ministry report. “Only this time, he won’t get out. Not once we use his seal — ”

“Impala’s seal,” Sadie corrected.

“– Ilona’s seal,” Endora agreed, “over instructions not to open the report until the 42nd of May.”

Sadie winced.

“What?”

“Remind me,” she said, “newer to get up your knob. Er, news…”

“Olfactory organ,” Endora hinted.

Sadie nodded grimly, but her gesture went unnoticed because Endora had already donned her sleep mask and leapt off the rooftop. Charming her broom to stay close to Endora’s, Sadie followed her into the swift, rushing air.

+++ DOUBLE CHALLENGES FOR TMQ #161 & 162 +++

You can help decide what happens next in The Magic Quill! Simply leave a brief comment answering the following Surveys and Contests. The survey answers with the most votes, and the contest answers that Robbie likes best, will turn up in the next two chapters!

SURVEY FOR TMQ #161: What gift from way back in Chapter 141 should Merlin use next? (A) Karl’s survival satchel. (B) Some of Anatoly’s defensive tattoos. (C) Another dose of Endora’s Liquid Skill. (D) Subito’s Turbo Gum. (E) Boccachiusa’s Peekaboo Kit.

CONTEST FOR TMQ #161: Suggest an experiment a wizard might do, toward bending a particular law of nature.

SURVEY FOR TMQ #162: Funny thing about Ilona… In Chapter 155, she was hypnotized by Lee Shore. But then she turns up in Chapter 159, right as rain. How would you explain this? (A) Ilona-155 is an imposter. (B) Ilona-159 is an imposter. (C) The events of Chapter 159 take place some time after Endora & Sadie (presumably) save the world from Lee Shore. (D) Somehow, by magic, Ilona has managed to be in two different places at one time. (E) Other suggestions welcome.

CONTEXT FOR TMQ #162: Describe a special step or move that a well-trained wizard might use in hand-to-hand combat.

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